Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective

Malankara World Journal
Penta Centum Souvenir Edition
Volume 8 No. 500 October 14, 2018


Chapter - 21: Service/Discipleship

A Different Kind of Greatness by Dr. Joe McKeever

Nothing proves the Lord's statement that true greatness resides in serving like an example of someone who pulls it off. ...

The Three Tests of a Servant Leader by Dr. Joe McKeever

The secret of effective servant leadership is driving a stake through the heart of the ego. The way to do that is to give yourself a strong talking-to on the matter of duty and expectations. Rebuke your pride, restrain your lust for recognition, and release your love. ...

Cost of Discipleship by Biaya Pemuridan

Discipleship is a serious commitment that requires much thought and careful deliberation. Becoming a follower of Christ is the most important enterprise we will ever undertake. ...

Five Keys to Intentional Discipleship - Mentoring by Melissa Kruger

As you grasp the importance of being intentional about the way you pursue Christ and help others to do the same, consider these principles before you begin a structured type of mentoring relationship. These should help to set expectations and provide a shared vision for your time together. ...

Pursuing Jesus - The Quiet Power of Daily Discipleship by Nathaniel Peters

When praying for a friend, a person ascends "from that holy love with which he embraces a friend to that with which he embraces Christ." The love that exists between Christian friends is a foretaste of heaven. ...

I Can't Find the Words by Suzie Eller

Only in hindsight do we see what Moses could not see in the beginning. God wasn't worried about Moses' lack of eloquence, vocabulary or skill, but whether or not Moses trusted God enough to obey. ...

Leadership Style of Jesus by Michael Youssef, Ph D.

Jesus of Nazareth taught and modeled a leadership style based on morality, truthfulness, servant-hood, humility, and meeting the needs of others. ...

Eternal Servant Leadership by Mark Schindler

Leadership Lessons From The Animal World

Jesus has taught about the value of Servant leadership. Interestingly, this is practiced by the animal kingdom for survival. ...

Chapter - 21: Service/Discipleship

A Different Kind of Greatness

by Dr. Joe McKeever

But it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. (Matthew 20:26)

Many years ago while in my first post-seminary pastorate, I pulled up to my church office one day to see a car in the parking lot with an intriguing name on its door. "Dare to be Great."

I wondered if that were a company or if someone wanted to say that line to the world so much they had magnetic signs printed up for their car doors.

The car pulled off and I was left wondering.

Then, a few weeks later, I began to hear of a sales movement that had that as its name and mantra: "Dare to be great." People were aggressively signing up their friends to sell some kind of "greatness programs" for thousands of dollars. Those who signed up were entitled to sign up others.

It did not require a Ph.D. to figure out someone was running a Ponzi scheme here, and that's what it was. Eventually, the Florida team that put it together had their mansions and planes and bank accounts confiscated by the feds and were carted off to prison.

I confess to being disappointed that the idea of greatness these people were promoting was strictly financial. Furthermore, their definition of greatness involved manipulating and using more and more people beneath them. Eventually, as happens with all such pyramid schemes, all the "little people"--that is, those late to the ball--were left holding the bag.

Jesus said, "He who would be great among you should be your servant."

Here are three fascinating things about that statement....

1. Jesus wants us to desire greatness. There is nothing wrong with the ambition to rise from the pack and do something significant in this world.

A few verses before our text, the mother of two of our Lord's primary disciples, James and John, approached him with a request. When He set up His kingdom, would He grant that one of her boys occupy the seat of honor to His right and the other the seat to His left?

In responding to her, the Lord pointed out that this was not His to give and then gave a teaching on the way of true greatness as opposed to the usual ideas. (Incidentally, Mark 10:35 says James and John themselves asked the Lord for the favor. My own conclusion is they all came.)

God wants us to be great, so long as we properly understand greatness. He wants us to be everything he planned us to be from Creation. The Lord made us higher than the rest of creation, no matter what the so-called humanists say.

The Heavens are the Heavens of God, but the earth He has given to the children of men. (Psalm 115:16)

And there is this line from another Psalm--

You have made him (man) a little lower than the angels and you have crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:5)

God made us for Himself, to be His children, to reign with Him. The desire for greatness is innate, installed by the Father Himself.

In the Old Testament, God promise His people that if they obeyed His Word, they would be on top and not the bottom; they would be the head and not the tail (Deuteronomy 28:13). God made His people to be the leaders, salt and light, the trend-setters in this world, not its followers.

2. Sin corrupts that desire and turns the greatness on its head.

The problem, however, is what sin does to that holy ambition. Under its influence, we find ourselves with a misshapen concept of greatness and an ugly hunger to get all of it we can. Then, finding it unsatisfying, we double our pursuit of the stuff.

Fallen man in a sin-crazed world sees greatness as a matter of dominating as many lesser mortals as possible, becoming the envy of millions, piling up power in the form of gold and silver, receiving awards and honors to assure us we are better than anyone else.

Ask a typical teenager what he wants to be when he grows up and he will not have a clue except for one thing: he knows he wants to be famous. To achieve celebrityhood, to be well-known for something, to be admired and envied.

Even ministers of the gospel are not immune to this disease. We do love our degrees, display our awards and honors, and make sure that the editor of our paper is aware of the latest recognition we have received. Let someone's edition of "Who's Who" run a thing on us and we add that to our resume.

It would be funny if it weren't so sad. It's sad because it's all so pointless, so fruitless, so needless.

As many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.(John 1:12) There is greatness--to be a child of God.

3. The way to genuine greatness is down and not up; by service and not domination.

Jesus is the prime example of this. He said, The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
(Matthew 20:28).

On another occasion, Jesus said, "I am among you as one who serves" (Luke 22:27). The foot-washing event of John 13 dramatized the lesson He sought to convey by His life and His teaching.

That's all well and good, someone says. But He was the Lord. He had nothing to prove. Which is correct, of course. In fact, the opening verses of John 13 make this very point:

Now, before the Feast of the Passover when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end; and supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.
(John 13:1-4)

That, believe it or not, is all one sentence in the Greek. It was intended, clearly, as a single unit to make the point that all this is happening with the certain knowledge of the Lord Jesus and that His act of service is of one piece with the rest.

Nothing proves the Lord's statement that true greatness resides in serving like an example of someone who pulls it off.

From time to time, you and I encounter one of those humans who seem to have no other ambition in life but to find more ways to help more people. They shun recognition, dislike the spotlight, live simply, and baffle critics. All they do is bless others and the world beats a path to their door, looking for their secret.

Margaret Covell is one who did far more than she probably ever knew in her lifetime.

Recently on this blog, I told the story of "God's Samurai," Mitsuo Fuchida who, during World War II, had been the lead bomber pilot as the Japanese Imperial Fleet wrought such devastation at Pearl Harbor. After the war, the Lord used a number of separate strains of witness to bring him to Christ. Then, for another quarter century, Fuchida covered the globe bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ. (I heard him in New Orleans sometime in the mid-1960s.)

No one was more used of the Lord to capture the heart of this warrior than 18-year-old Margaret "Peggy" Covell.

Following the war, Fuchida made a point of meeting as many ships as he could which were bringing returning POWs back to Japan. Seeking out some he knew, he asked how they had been treated in America. After sitting in on a number of war crime trials, Fuchida was convinced that the USA had treated their prisoners just as harshly as had the Japanese. Once in a while, the returning POWs did testify to mistreatment, but again and again, they told of being treated with kindness. In the reports, one name kept recurring.

In one of the prison hospitals in America, a young nurse named Margaret Covell had given sacrificial service to wait on her patients. She would say, "If you need anything, just let me know."

One day, a Japanese prisoner asked Miss Covell why she went out of her way to be so kind. He was not prepared for her answer.

"Because the Japanese murdered my parents," she said.

Her folks had been missionaries at a Christian school in Yokohama. When war threatened, the missionaries all relocated to Manila. Eventually, the Japanese came there, too, and they were arrested. The military confiscated their portable radio and, thinking it to be a secretive communications device, questioned and tortured the Covells. Then, they beheaded them.

Margaret had been attending school in the States and had not learned of her parents' death until the war ended. She became bitter and filled with hatred.

Soon, as she reflected on her parents' lives, she realized that they would have forgiven their executioners and that she must, also. Then, she did as she thought they would have, and devoted herself to waiting on them.

Fuchida was stunned by such reports. This was contrary to the Japanese custom of revenge, the word for which in his tongue literally meant "attack enemy." But to forgive an enemy? The concept was foreign to him.

Fuchida set out to find out what the missionary couple, the Covells, had said before they were beheaded. That should tell him something. But no one seemed to know.

Then one day, Fuchida received a Bible. A friend challenged him to read 30 pages before dismissing it. By the time he had read that many, Mitsuo Fuchida was enthralled by its message. And that's where he found what he had been searching for. In the 23rd chapter of Luke's Gospel, this Japanese Samurai came upon the prayer of Jesus from the cross on behalf of His executioners:

Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.(Luke 23:34)

That was it, he felt. That is what the Covells did as they died. They forgave their executioners.

Later, Mitsuo Fuchida testified that this was the moment he was converted to Christ. Until that time, he still had not had a conversation with any Christian on how to be saved. The Lord used the Holy Scriptures and the loving example of three faithful servants, Margaret Covell and her parents.

I daresay that the Missionary Covells led far more people to Christ by dying for Him at the hands of the Japanese than they ever had in their lifetimes. Likewise, their daughter Margaret, bore witness to the whole world of Jesus Christ through the preaching of a man she never met, Mitsuo Fuchida, world evangelist.

Jesus put it this way: Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. (John 12:24)

So, who is the greatest? The disciples seemed to be bugged by that issue. (Matthew 18:1 and Mark 9:34)

Someone once asked Billy Graham who he thought might be the greatest Christian ever. As I recall, He answered that only God knew, but "I wouldn't be surprised if it's not some unknown person working in some remote place no one ever heard of, and seen only by the Lord Himself."

Could I add one more point to this issue, someone not suggested by the text but so true it almost goes without saying?

Greatness-by-service is also God's plan for His churches, not just for individual believers.

I wonder if anyone has counted all the clinics and conferences designed to show church leaders how to put their institution, their ministry, their congregation, on the map. How to be great in their community, or at least greater than the competition.

Why don't we just take the Lord at His word and begin to serve our communities? It seems so clear, so plain.

Does this mean car washes and gasoline giveaways? A food pantry for the needy? A clothes closet? It might.

It might also mean an employment service, a ministry to the homeless, a partnership with Habitat to build homes, and a thousand other things.

It could mean mission trips overseas, but only if the church has established itself as a servant in their own community. Otherwise, the mission trip becomes a substitute for reaching their own Jerusalem.

One thing it must mean, however, without which all the other service is meaningless: the people who serve must share the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. Evangelism.

The best service we can ever render to another is to introduce them to the Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation will achieve more in 5 minutes in that person's life than years of other kinds of labor from us.

It is no credit to our churches that the conservative churches have often wanted to present the gospel without serving the people, whereas liberal churches want to serve the people without presenting the gospel.

I sat across the table from Buck and Dottie and Reba Rambo. This marvelous singing group had been in our town the night before, doing a concert. At intermission time, I introduced myself as the pastor of the First Baptist Church up the street. Dottie asked if I had a doctor in the church, saying she was having throat problems. A half-hour after the concert, our own version of Marcus Welby--Dr. S. B. Platt--met us at his office and treated her.

The next morning, at their invitation, I joined this legendary singing group for breakfast. I wish I had recorded the conversation.

Buck Rambo was talking. "I had this guy call me from another singing group. Said he wanted to come and spend a few days with us in order to 'find out how to make it big.' I told him, 'Friend, keep your eyes on Jesus and let Him take care of the big.'"

That was 35 years ago and I've not forgotten the lesson.

Let the Lord take care of the greatness part. After all, no one does it better.

About The Author

Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and retired Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.

The Three Tests of a Servant Leader

by Dr. Joe McKeever

"The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28)

The pastor who is a servant to his flock has an authority and influence unmatched by those who have taken all the leadership courses and read all the books and are able to display all the certificates on their walls.

The leader who will serve his people demonstrates Jesus Christ to them, proves his concern for their needs, models effective leadership for those coming after him, and builds a solid structure on a firm foundation.

Not all pastors want to serve. Some wish to be known as strategists and pulpiteers, managerial experts and motivational geniuses. But only those who serve are building a church that will last upon a solid biblical foundation. The others are playing their control games.

Here are 3 areas by which anyone considering becoming a leader of God's people can check himself.

What servant leadership looks like

In John 13, Jesus girds Himself with a towel, gets down on his knees, and does the lowliest work imaginable to the disciples: He washes their feet.

A servant leader can frequently be found working behind the scenes, taking the work no one else wished to tackle, seeing that others get the credit, and rejoicing when someone else succeeds and prospers.

At a church dinner, a servant leader will only rarely be seen at the head table being waited upon. Look for him among the tables, pouring drinks and greeting guests and ministering in small ways. Don't be surprised to find him washing dishes or taking out the garbage.

You measure his effectiveness not by the numbers of people he controls, but the number he serves.

What a servant leader says to others

To the blind beggar of Jericho, the Lord Jesus asked a question the poor man had never heard in all his years. He had lived off cast-offs, throwaways, spare change, and scraps for all his life. Now, standing before the Lord Jesus Christ, he hears a question never asked him before: "What do you want me to do for you?" (Mark 10:51)

That's the question of a servant. "What can I do for you?"

Interestingly, the Lord asked the identical question earlier in Mark 10:36, when James and John brought their little self-advancement scheme to Him. He refused their request. In the case of the blind beggar who asked for his sight, Jesus granted it. So, we conclude that asking the question "What can I do for you?" is not to obligate oneself to do whatever we are asked. The Lord does not send out His people to mindlessly obey every needy individual they meet.

A group of people gather to do a job. You are there to get a job done. Some wish to be leaders, some have preconceived notions on how to do it best, and some just want to watch. But when someone arrives asking "How can I help?" your heart skips a beat. This is the most welcome person in the room.

It's what servants ask. They just want to bless the others. A servant, it is said, works to make others successful.

A servant submits to others. (See Ephesians 5:21 where all believers are instructed to submit to one another.) And this may be the reason there is so little real service going on today; people prefer to take the power position, not the inferior, lowly spot.

And yet, this is what our Lord did. In fact, He taught that true greatness comes just in this way. Only the truly wise among us will believe that, however. The rest will spend their lives building fancy resumes by heading up organizations and receiving impressive awards.

What a servant leader says to himself

Our Lord said, "When you have done everything commanded you, say (to yourself), ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have only done our duty.' (Luke 17:10)"

The secret of effective servant leadership is driving a stake through the heart of the ego. The way to do that is to give yourself a strong talking-to on the matter of duty and expectations. Rebuke your pride, restrain your lust for recognition, and release your love.

The immature person is often willing to work on a project, even sacrificially. But when the work is over, he/she will be expecting some kind of recognition and appreciation. Most of us have known of people who dropped out of church because they worked hard and no one appreciated them. Ask them about their church membership and you will hear their story. The sad tale of the church's failure to properly appreciate them has eaten at them ever since, so the story is always ready to be told.

They were trapped by their ego with its insatiable craving for recognition.

It helps to bear in mind that Jesus did not say we should feel this way to other people–try telling someone "You are an unprofitable servant" and it will be received as a rebuke to them. Nor did He say that others should say this to us. He said this is what we are to tell ourselves.

It's all about controlling our self-centeredness to free ourselves to bless others in whatever ways present themselves.

If you want to be a leader, you will have a problem: no one wants to follow.

But if you want to be a servant, you're in luck: everyone likes to be served.

Cost of Discipleship

by Biaya Pemuridan

Gospel Reading: Luke 14:25-33

First Reading: Wisdom 9:13-18; Psalms: Psalm 90:3-6.12-14.17;

Second Reading: Philemon 9-10.12-17

Gospel Reading: Luke 14:25-33

Scripture Text

Now great multitudes accompanied Him; and He turned and said to them, "If any one comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be My disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple."
(Luke 14:25-33 RSV)

The point of today's Gospel is to make us realize that becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is not something we do because of a sudden whim or flight of fancy.

Discipleship is a serious commitment that requires much thought and careful deliberation. Becoming a follower of Christ is the most important enterprise we will ever undertake. Consequently, it requires at least as much consideration as we would give to any important business or political decision. Discipleship is a venture that demands total dedication. Everything else must become secondary if Jesus is to be the Lord of our life. When Jesus says that we must "hate" our families, He is using a Semitic expression meaning that we must "prefer" Him above anyone else in our life. If a conflict of interest arises, a disciple will prefer to follow Jesus and not let family ties or work or leisure activities interfere.

We have to count the cost before we commit ourselves to accompany Jesus on His journey to Jerusalem, where He will die and rise. If we are unwilling to give up some sinful situation, or change a lifestyle that contradicts the Gospel, or sacrifice our own convenience to love our neighbor, then we cannot call ourselves serious disciples.

We might be superficial disciples who hang around Jesus hoping to catch some of His glory, but we are not serious disciples who are devoted and loyal enough to carry the cross after Him. Serious disciples are ready to renounce all their possessions should that be required by the Lord. They are willing to surrender their home, health, freedom, yes, even their loved ones, should that be the price they have to pay to follow Jesus.

The cross Jesus carried and asks us to carry is the life of Christian love itself, the great "baptism" toward which His whole life was directed. The cross is our state of life: our apostolate, our daily duties, our marriage, our family, our teaching, our nursing, our studies, our job – whatever work of unselfish love and devotion God has given us. The small daily vexations are only the shadows cast by that great cross, for the cross is the towering tree of overwhelming love. It is that great "dear thing" for which all other "dear things" are given up with joy.

Let us thank the Lord for giving us an invitation to become true disciples. Praise Him for giving us not only the inspiration to start our own journey to Jerusalem with Him, but also the resolution to finish that journey regardless of what it may cost. We may never be bridge-builders, but we can all be builders of the Kingdom of God through our discipleship.

Moreover, we can be confident that whatever it costs us is nothing compared to the glory that will be ours in the resurrection. We can expect that whatever good work the Lord begins through us will be brought to completion by Him.


I praise You and adore You, Jesus, my Lord and my God. The triumph of Your cross is the triumph of Your perfect love. Blessed is Your most precious name, forever and ever. Amen.

Source: A Christian Pilgrim

Five Keys to Intentional Discipleship - Mentoring

by Melissa Kruger

When I was a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill, my campus staff worker for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship approached me, asking if I would like to meet on a weekly basis over the course of the semester. Over the next three years, Deanne mentored me on a variety of topics from relationships to ministry to Bible study. Her example of being an intentional discipler has been invaluable to me. As I reflect back on our times together, five important principles emerge.

As you grasp the importance of being intentional about the way you pursue Christ and help others to do the same, consider these principles before you begin a structured type of mentoring relationship. These should help to set expectations and provide a shared vision for your time together.

Principle #1: Set a scheduled meeting time and location.

When setting up a more formal type of mentoring relationship, it is important to get your calendars out and find a regular time to meet that works for you both. When I was in college, Deanne and I met every week at the same pizza place on campus. Our waiter, Joey, knew that we would be there every Tuesday and always greeted us with a welcoming smile. The consistency of our relationship allowed us to build trust and awareness of what was going on in each other’s lives.

Outside of college, most of us will have difficulty meeting on a weekly basis. I usually try to meet with the women I mentor once a month. If time permits, every other week would be a good option for a regularly scheduled meeting. If possible, set a regular day and time of the month (e.g. the second Tuesday of each month or every other Wednesday). The more consistent the meeting time and location, the more likely the relationship will have opportunity to grow.

Principle #2: Plan the duration of time you will meet together.

When Deanne first approached me about mentoring, she asked if we could meet weekly for the fall semester. She wisely understood that mentoring relationships are not always a good fit and that time commitments often change for a variety of reasons. Setting a fixed duration for our meeting time provided both of us the opportunity to reevaluate at the end of the semester. I understood that she might need to invest her time elsewhere and she realized that my school schedule might change so that I could no longer meet at our regular time. Thankfully, we were able to continue our relationship over the course of three years. Just before my senior year of college she got married and moved to a new city, so we could no longer meet on a regular basis.

I usually counsel women to plan to meet once a month over the course of a year or every other week for six months. If the relationship is going well, it is easy to extend the time together for another six months or year. However, if schedules change or the mentoring is not proving beneficial, this provides a natural end to a regular meeting time. It does not mean that the relationship ends, just that the consistency of times together may decrease. I find this principle to be one of the most important to discuss early on, in order to prevent hurt feelings or unrealized expectations.

Principle #3: Plan what you will study.

It is also important to clarify what you will do in your time together so that both parties are prepared. You may read a chapter of a particular book or discuss certain questions for accountability. I recommend having something to help guide your conversations. It is quite easy to simply “catch up” and discuss life circumstances without every truly going deeper and knowing God in more intimate ways. In my next article, I will discuss some keys to well-balanced discipleship that will hopefully provide helpful direction as you consider what to study in your time together.

Principle #4: Initiate social times together.

Deanne and I met regularly for our meetings, but we also enjoyed social times together outside of our Tuesday lunches. I saw her each week at our large group meeting and she would invite me to hang out with her while stuffing support envelopes or to go to see a movie together. These were times when we built our friendship informally that blessed our more intentional times together.

If you are only meeting once a month and rarely see one another outside of your time together, it may prove difficult to develop an open and honest relationship that is productive for spiritual growth. It is important to find informal times when the two of you can enjoy each other’s company. It might be riding together to a church retreat, volunteering on the same committee, enjoying a home-cooked meal, or walking together one morning. Finding ways to spend time with one another will build the relationship in encouraging ways.

Principle #5: Pray for one another.

I find prayer to be one of the most important aspects of any mentoring relationship. Each time you meet together, make sure to each share ways you can pray for one another. It is helpful for the mentor to share his or her prayer requests, as well as the mentee. Understanding that mature Christians still struggle and have prayer needs is an important lesson for those they are mentoring. It allows the younger believer to enter into and hear the struggles of their mentor. Being open and honest before the person you mentor may be the very thing she needs to allow her to open up with you in deeper ways.

One of the most intimidating things about entering into a mentoring relationship is the fear of failure. Openly communicating about expectations and considering these principles can help to begin a relationship that will bless both participants. This type of discipleship builds the church in powerful ways. Be encouraged – mentoring relationships are worth the time, energy, effort and thoughtfulness you put into them.

About The Author:

Melissa Kruger serves as Women's Ministry Coordinator at Uptown Church in Charlotte, North Carolina and is the author of The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World (Christian Focus, 2012). Her husband Mike is the president of Reformed Theological Seminary, and they have three children.

Source: Daily Update

Pursuing Jesus - The Quiet Power of Daily Discipleship

by Nathaniel Peters


At the end of his beautiful hymn to love in 1 Corinthians 13, Saint Paul writes that "these three remain: faith, hope, and love." Most Christians are pretty clear on faith and love, but less so on hope. We tend to think that hope is another word for optimism. We hope that the Bills or the Red Sox will win the game, or that it will be sunny this weekend. The apostles meant something much stronger by hope. Their proclamation of Christian faith began with the astonishing fact that Jesus rose from the dead. In Byzantine iconography, Christ has ripped the doors of the underworld off their hinges and stands astride them. Below in the abyss lie countless locks, now useless. His muscles flex as he grabs Adam and Eve by the wrists and pulls them out of their graves. Hope takes this victory of Christ seriously. It is not a feeling but a spiritual habit that the Holy Spirit gives us as a gift. Hope remembers the promises and protections of the Lord. It reminds us that the goal of our lives is fellowship with God in heaven, forever. It strengthens us along the path of life and helps us keep our lives directed heavenward.

The greatest man of hope I ever met was Richard John Neuhaus, the noted Lutheran-pastor-become-Catholic-priest who was also a civil rights, anti–Vietnam War, and pro-life advocate. Optimism, he liked to say, is just a matter of optics. Hope, on the other hand, is founded on the reality of Christ's triumph. Neuhaus devoted himself to fighting for what he thought were the greatest causes. In this he met with some success. The civil rights movement largely succeeded in its goals, and America did eventually get out of Vietnam. Yet he had far more opportunities for despair. "The Movement," he argued, died because it became more concerned with protecting the lifestyles of elites than fighting for the well-being of the most vulnerable. What were those to do who were committed to the kingdom of God rather than the mantra "if it feels good, do it"? On the ecclesiastical front, most of Neuhaus's life was spent trying to bring about reunion between Lutherans and Roman Catholics. When he became convinced that his fellow Lutherans did not see this as imperative, he became a Catholic.

Despite these setbacks, and despite plenty of verbal swashbuckling in the public square, Neuhaus was never a man of despair. Giving an account of the authors who had influenced him, he concluded with "Paul, above all Paul, always Paul." He attributed his own confidence to 1 Corinthians 4:5: "Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts" (KJV). For the bedrock of that confidence, he offered Romans 14:8: "Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's."

Greater hostility to Christian faith and practice forces us to reckon with where we put our hope. When we can no longer trust prestige or influence, we are forced to focus on Christ as our strength and protection. When we see the world in light of his resurrection, we are seeing it in the light of truth. This leaves no room for despair, for he has conquered what we fear most.


Seeing the world in light of Christ's truth also means seeing it in mercy. Like hope, mercy is a fundamental Christian trait. It is a mark of a life formed by Christ, in his image. Contemporary culture frames issues in terms of acceptance or hatred. Christian mercy refuses to choose between these false dichotomies, rejecting the way the dominant culture frames them.

Too often, of course, Christians have succumbed to the categories of the world. They have responded with the hatred expected of them and offended others with lives opposed to gospel teachings. Conformity to the world betrays the truth of Christ and makes it less intelligible. When Christianity occupied a more dominant place in our culture, we were allowed to overlook mercy many times. Losing that dominance gives us many occasions in which to show mercy.

We can learn important lessons in Christian mercy from our brothers and sisters who have not felt at home in their countries in the same way we have. Who can forget the videos of mothers and spouses, chests heaving with grief, forgiving the man who came into their church's Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina, and slaughtered their loved ones? They called him to repentance and urged him to seek the love of Jesus. After decades of injustice and blows upon the bruise, and as the defendant refused to make eye contact with them, they forgave him.

Something similar happened in North Africa when ISIS beheaded twenty-one Coptic Christians. On a video seen all over the world, masked men cut their throats. The last words of some of them were "Lord Jesus Christ." Later, on a Christian television show, Beshir Kamel, the brother of two of the martyrs, thanked ISIS for not editing out the men's last declaration of faith in Christ because it had strengthened his own faith. He then added that the families of those killed were "congratulating one another." He said: "We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs…Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyred and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us."

When the host asked whether he could forgive ISIS, Kamel relayed what his mother had said she would do if she saw one of the men who killed her son: "My mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, said she would ask [him] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven." When the host invited him to pray for his brothers' killers, Kamel prayed, "Dear God, please open their eyes to be saved and to quit their ignorance and the wrong teachings they were taught."

Our brothers and sisters in Charleston and Libya are heroes of the faith. Their incredible witness should challenge us and spur us on. They are beacons of mercy, showing us how to respond to those who hate Christ and harm his flock. As we stand in awe of them, we should remember that their heroic acts stem from simple lives of faith. As Kamel observed about his mother, these men and women are not great in the eyes of the world. But they love Jesus, and their ability to perform these great acts of love comes from many small ones. Because they take their faith seriously, they were able to respond with Jesus' mercy when evil attacked.

Mercy is also the best answer when we have nothing else left to offer. So many things that trouble us lie outside our control. We turn on the news and see more stories of martyrs in the Middle East and of black churches burnt at home. We see friends whose sin ends up wounding those around them, and other friends who blindly encourage them to persist. We hear our brothers and sisters in Christ hated and reviled by those we consider friends. And we know our own sin, and the sins of our fellow Christians. So much is wrong and we can do so little about it. Mourning the sin of the world and meeting it with love is part of our Christian vocation. More often than we make arguments for our faith, we must call on the mercy of Jesus in prayer. When we don't know what we can do, we can and should offer those we love back to the one who loves them even more.

We can so easily forget how much prayers matter. Some weeks ago, I was reading outside on my university's campus. A woman passing by on her way to Mass said that she was praying for students like me during the week of final exams. I smiled and explained that I wasn't taking exams, just reading for my dissertation. She assured me that she and others were praying for me too. Then she called down the Holy Spirit on me to illuminate my research and writing so that I might set the world on fire. And she went on her way. I suddenly was reminded that I was sustained by countless prayers I would never see. Men and women who did not know me interceded for me and my work, and the help God gave me was an answer to their prayers. We must be such men and women. When we can do nothing else, we should pray for mercy, confident that the Lord will answer us in ways we may only discover in heaven.


The cultivation of mercy and hope takes place in communities of Christian friendship. The ancients considered friendship vitally important to human existence and to society as a whole. Aristotle and Cicero both offered famous treatments of it. Today, friendship is somewhat neglected. Due to American culture's hyper-sexualization, it is difficult for some to imagine non-sexual love between friends. In their focus on marriage, Christian churches have also neglected the importance of friendship. But companions on the way to heaven are essential. In the Middle Ages, an English abbot named Aelred of Rievaulx wrote a book on the nature of Christian friendships. A Christian friendship, Aelred writes, is hard to get into and hard to get out of. If it does unravel – especially if we lose friends because of our fidelity to the gospel – we should question what the friendship was founded on in the first place.

Christian friendship is founded on the holiness that you see present in another person, despite his sin, and vice versa. Since both friends love Christ and want to found their friendship on their love of Christ, Christ becomes the third person in their friendship. The love the two friends share helps them love Christ more. Their own greater intimacy brings greater intimacy with Christ. As friends go through life, they encourage each other in holiness and correct each other. They enjoy each other's company and share each other's fears and confidences. When praying for a friend, remarks Aelred, a person ascends "from that holy love with which he embraces a friend to that with which he embraces Christ." The love that exists between Christian friends is a foretaste of heaven.

Randy Boyagoda's recent biography of Neuhaus describes how Neuhaus created communities of friends that would pursue deep questions together. Some of these communities became well-known, and sometimes controversial: the journal First Things or the ecumenical group Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Far from the public eye, though, was another community Neuhaus founded: the Community of Christ in the City. When Neuhaus was transitioning out of Lutheran parish ministry, he and another pastor, Larry Bailey, bought a townhouse. Over time, they turned it into a Christian community, whose members prayed nightly and ate dinner together on Saturday nights. The community had a simple rhythm of life that formed those who were a part of it. It nursed one of its members as he was dying of AIDS in the early 1990s. It prepared many for their vocations to marriage and ministry.

I was a member of the community by Nathaniel Peters from 2007 to 2009. It became my home, a home in which Christian friendship flourished. While Neuhaus's personality was the driving force behind the house's life, Bailey was its unsung hero, in many ways. A quiet man, he was a polymath who taught languages, history, and theology at a high school in Brooklyn. He became a father figure to young men whose schooling he and the community helped finance. Those evenings of prayer, the long dinners, and the conversations and adventures with the other members – some now married, one now a nun – remain a gift I will always treasure. Slowly over time, the community formed, healed, and taught me. It truly was a school of hope, mercy, and friendship.

About The Author:

Nathaniel Peters is a doctoral candidate in historical theology at Boston College.

© 2016 Plough Publishing House

I Can't Find the Words

by Suzie Eller

"Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in both speech and action." Acts 7:22 (NLT)

Have you ever tried to hide from God's call on your life?

Moses did. He fled to the wilderness to get away. The hillside was a comfortable place; one that allowed him to live in obscurity. But God approached Moses as he tended sheep.

When God asked Moses to speak to Pharaoh on His behalf, Moses balked. He felt inadequate. He lifted up his weakness to God and submitted it as an excuse not to do as God asked. "My words get tangled," he said. (Exodus 4:10b NLT)

Yet years later in Acts 7:22, we find that Stephen described Moses as powerful in both speech and action.

How could this be? Did he truly struggle with his words, or was it an excuse?

As an Egyptian citizen and adopted member of the royal family, Moses had access to the finest education. As a young man he rose to the rank of prime minister, a task that required him to communicate with others. But Moses is believed to have had a true speech impediment.

He struggled to get the words out.

So when God approached Moses to join in an adventure to free His people from slavery, all Moses could think about was his weakness.

When Stephen described Moses, hundreds of years later, he had the advantage of seeing Moses' life span. He had heard of every act of courage and victory. Even in death, the name of Moses was revered among the nation of Israel.

Stephen knew when Moses spoke, though he may have stammered, his words carried weight.

The words Moses spoke were described as "life giving." (Acts 7:38 NLT) Moses' words mended arguments, offered justice, negotiated freedom and dispensed wisdom.

Only in hindsight do we see what Moses could not see in the beginning. God wasn't worried about Moses' lack of eloquence, vocabulary or skill, but whether or not Moses trusted God enough to obey.

  • Where Moses was deficient, God would be sufficient.
  • Where Moses struggled, God would succeed.
  • Where Moses was weak, God would be strong.

How many times does God invite us to follow Him into an adventure? Whether it is to be a great mom, or to lead a Bible study, or do anything outside our comfort zone, do we hold up our weaknesses and say, "Sorry, God, I can't," and then point out our weaknesses to Him.

In these instances, "My words get tangled" translates to:

  • I'm not patient, God, so don't ask me to be a good mom.
  • I don't like to be in the spotlight, God, so let someone else lead that study.
  • I'm afraid, God, so don't ask me to [fill in the blank].

When we look past our "tangled words" to His equipping, we find our answer.

What is God asking you to do? Have you been responding with your own version of, "My words get tangled"?

Are you willing to step out in obedience today?

Like Moses, only with hindsight will you one day see how your obedience shaped a child, or a neighbor or a nation.

Or you.

What do you stand to gain as you take the focus off your deficiency to trust in His sufficiency?

Dear Lord, You know my very real weakness. But I am excited to respond to Your voice today. With You all things are possible, so I step out in faith beginning today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:

Abraham was old; Timothy was timid; Jacob was insecure; Peter was impulsive; and Moses had a speech impediment, yet God used each of these people in such a way that their names are etched in history.

Add your name to the list above: I am _______________, but with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27).

Power Verses:

Exodus 4:10, "Moses said to the Lord, 'Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.'" (NIV)

Exodus 4:11-12, "The Lord said to him, 'Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.'" (NIV)

Source: Encouragement for Today
© 2012 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.

Leadership Style of Jesus

by Michael Youssef, Ph D.

Jesus did everything wrong, according to the leadership wisdom of this world. There are essentially two classic leadership models today, and the leadership style of Jesus is unquestionably the minority view. The more commonly accepted leadership model is descended from the writings of Italian politician and humanist philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527). In his book The Prince, he advocated a style of leadership rooted solely in the pursuit of power.

Machiavelli taught that leaders must be ruthless in the pursuit of power, that they should maintain an outwardly moral reputation but be willing to act immorally to maintain power. Machiavelli is credited with originating the saying, "the ends justify the means" - the notion that even immoral actions are justified if they produce a desirable outcome. According to Machiavelli, if a leader must use brutal force, deception, coercion, or the elimination of rivals in order to acquire and maintain power, then he should not hesitate to do so.

Machiavelli's The Prince has had a widespread influence through the centuries. Leaders who have read and adopted the leadership style of Machiavelli include England's ruthless chief minister Thomas Cromwell, who served the equally ruthless King Henry VIII (who ultimately turned on Cromwell and executed him); Spain's Charles V, a greedy and ruthless monarch who launched many wars and opposed the Protestant Reformation; Catherine de Médicis, who instigated the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre against French Protestants; the Scottish atheist philosopher David Hume; and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who killed millions of his own people in forced labor camps and deliberately engineered famines. (Stalin read The Prince many times, underlining and scribbling notes in the margins.)

To this day, a scheming leader who will do anything for the sake of power is described as "Machiavellian." Niccolò Machiavelli advocated a leadership style based on amorality, deception, power, ego, and personal advantage. By contrast, Jesus of Nazareth taught and modeled a leadership style based on morality, truthfulness, servant-hood, humility, and meeting the needs of others.

Jesus started with a motley group of twelve followers. None were welleducated. Some were undoubtedly illiterate. One was a traitor. Yet with that small group, Jesus changed history and impacted the entire world. We date our calendars by his life. So I ask you, would you rather follow the leadership model of Machiavelli or the leadership style of Jesus?

Two Kinds of Power

When people think of leadership, they usually think of power. The issue of power applies to leadership in every arena of human endeavor: business, education, church, and home. Anywhere two or more people gather together to achieve a goal or purpose, power comes into play.

While Jesus did not pursue power at any cost in the way that Machiavelli advocates, he did not condemn the use of power per se. But Jesus differed from the standard secular model of leadership in the way he viewed power.

First, let's define what we mean by power. In a leadership context, I define power as "the ability to influence, inspire, or induce behavior in others." In leadership, there are two kinds of power: position power and personal power.

Position power refers to the influence leaders have because of the position they hold in the organization. An employee might not volunteer for a certain task if a coworker asked him to do it. But if his superior - a person with the power of position in the organization - asks him to do it, that employee will probably volunteer in a heartbeat. A powerful position gives one clout to command, motivate, and even intimidate others in the organization.

One of the leadership challenges Jesus faced as he taught and mentored the disciples was teaching them a completely new kind of leadership, a new kind of power. They thought his kingdom would be a worldly kingdom, and his power would be worldly political power.

In Matthew 20, James and John, along with their mother, take Jesus aside to ask for a favor. Their mother does the talking, asking Jesus to promise he'll give her boys positions on his right and left hand. In other words, she wanted King Jesus to make her sons the chancellor and prime minister of the kingdom. James, John, and their mother were thinking about position power. They wanted Jesus to give them the positions so they would have the power.

But as Jesus would later tell Pontius Pilate, his kingdom was not of this world. His power was not worldly power, the power of position. So Jesus told this mother and her sons, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?"

"We are able," they replied.

"You will drink my cup," Jesus said somberly, knowing that James and John would become martyrs for the Christian faith, "but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."

The other ten disciples heard about what James and John and their mother had done, trying to jump to the head of the line for high positions in the coming kingdom. They too were thinking of the kingdom of Jesus as a worldly kingdom based on worldly position power.

But Jesus rebuked them all, saying, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (see Matthew 20:20-28).

This was one of several instances where Jesus had to rebuke the disciples for their worldly, even Machiavellian view of leadership and power. On several occasions, he had to teach them that his leadership style is based instead on servanthood.

On another occasion, Jesus and the disciples were walking to Capernaum. The Twelve, thinking Jesus couldn't hear them, argued among themselves. But when they reached their destination, Jesus asked, "What were you discussing on the way?"

The shame-faced disciples couldn't answer, because they had argued about which among them was the greatest. So Jesus told them once again that his style of leadership was not about who was the greatest or who had the top position. "If anyone would be first," Jesus said, "he must be last of all and servant of all" (see Mark 9:33-35).

Over and over, Jesus taught his disciples this new and paradoxical form of leadership:

In the kingdom of Jesus, the leader is the one who serves, and the servant is the one who leads. Jesus came to stand position power on its head.

Personal power comes from one's charisma and personality. A leader who projects confidence, strength, hope, optimism, and sincerity can always inspire people through personal power, even in seemingly hopeless situations.

In May 1940, during the darkest days of World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill stood before the House of Commons and delivered a speech that was broadcast by radio to the entire nation. In the course of that speech, he said these words: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering."

Those are dark and depressing words, and Churchill was giving the British people a realistic assessment of the crisis they faced. As ink on paper, those words cause the soul to sink into despair. Yet, when spoken by Churchill, those words actually had the effect of lifting the morale and igniting the fighting spirit of the British people.

With his bulldog swagger, Churchill went on to say, "You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory.

Personal power comes from one's charisma and personality. A leader who projects confidence, strength, hope, optimism, and sincerity can always inspire people through personal power, even in seemingly hopeless situations.

Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival."

Winston Churchill did not sugarcoat the problems they faced. He communicated the enormity of the crisis in no uncertain terms - but he focused on the task ahead through the lens of his personal power, his infectious confidence, his defiant courage. And the result was that a seemingly defeated nation experienced a resurgent morale.

The people of Great Britain rallied behind him, battled bravely, and fulfilled his promise of victory.

Of course, there is always a danger in personal power. In our media age, there is the increasing possibility that we will give power and influence to demagogues - to skilled manipulators with superficial charm but without the experience, ability, values, and character that make an authentic leader. There are already many superficially charming people who are distorting popular opinion on our TV screens, producing distorted policy and legislation in Washington, DC, and even distorting God's truth in pulpits across the country.

Charming, manipulative leaders can acquire tyrannical powers. It happened in Germany in the 1930s, when a man with a gift of persuasive oratory led Nazi Germany - and the entire world - into global war. It happened in a different way in 1978 when a charming and manipulative preacher named Jim Jones led nearly a thousand followers, including two hundred children, to death by mass murder-suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.

Personal power can be a great force for good when wielded by a great leader like Winston Churchill. But personal power cannot be trusted. Those who charm us with their personal magnetism, those who sway us with their persuasive words, may be very effective leaders, but where are they leading us? Personal power sometimes leads to destruction.

The Five Power Plays

Worldly leaders employ a number of techniques to maintain their power.

They will use position power, personal power, or a combination of both in order to manipulate people and achieve their ends. They generally maintain power through what I call "The Five Power Plays." Let's examine these Power Plays one by one.

Power Play 1: Manipulation

The infamous Jim Jones of Jonestown stands out as an example of manipulation because he led so many people to a bizarre and sensational death by mass suicide. People look at that awful event in 1978 and say, "I don't know how Jim Jones was able to manipulate so many people. He could never brainwash me into accepting such a fate!"

But is anyone truly immune to the power of manipulation of a charismatic personality? Jim Jones was, after all, a preacher and the founder of a large religious movement, the People's Temple. He adopted children, preached a social gospel of racial tolerance, and set up outreach programs for the poor.

He gained credibility by associating with prominent politicians such as San Francisco Mayor George Moscone (who appointed him chairman of the Housing Authority Commission), First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and Vice President Walter Mondale. Outwardly, Jim Jones had an aura of respectability on a national stage and was considered a pillar of the community.

Jones attracted crowds of followers to his People's Temple - and he used methods of manipulation to keep them there. He played on people's fears, warning against a coming nuclear apocalypse. Authentic leaders motivate and inspire their followers with truth, logic, facts, and reason, while manipulators like Jim Jones use fear and irrational emotion to keep people in line. Manipulators are psychological bullies who intimidate insecure people with lines like, "You don't want people to think you are uncooperative and not giving your best to God, do you?" Or "People tell me that you're a troublemaker, and I want you to prove them wrong." Jim Jones always knew the right words to say to silence objections and keep people under his thumb.

It's instructive to note that Jim Jones used the same manipulative tactics that the leaders of the Pharisee cult used in Jesus's day. In John 7, the Pharisees, the bitter enemies of Jesus, wanted to arrest Jesus and do away with him without trial. Nicodemus, the Pharisee who had earlier visited Jesus by night, protested, "Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?"

Enraged, the other Pharisees ganged up on him and replied, "Are you from Galilee too?" The Judean Jews looked down on the Galileans, and the not-toosubtle implication of that question was that if Nicodemus defended Jesus the Galilean, they might treat Nicodemus as a Galilean as well. They didn't have to use an open threat - a single question was sufficiently intimidating. Nicodemus said no more in defense of Jesus. That is how manipulators get their way and maintain their power.

Power Play 2: Guilt or Shame

Leaders, by virtue of their powerful positions, have the ability to induce feelings of guilt and shame in their subordinates and followers. Abusive leaders often manipulate people with guilt feelings in order to maintain control over them.

Take, for example, this story from a woman named Jessie who worked in an office in New York City:

I always feel stupid in front of my boss. The other day, when I walked into the office in my running shoes, he asked me why I was wearing them. I told him I had powerwalked to work. He said, "Do people still power-walk in New York City?" I laughed at his comment but couldn't believe I said something so stupid. I wanted to crawl in a hole. I can never say anything smart in front of the boss. I feel like he thinks I'm just some stupid girl in the office.

Do you see what happened here? Jessie's boss asked her a seemingly innocent question - yet that one question filled Jessie with self-doubt, shame, and feelings of inferiority. There's nothing stupid about power-walking. It's a perfectly legitimate form of exercise that is still practiced in New York City and all across the country. But this boss knew exactly how to twist the verbal knife and make Jessie doubt herself and feel insecure. Maybe this boss didn't know the effect his words had on Jessie,

--- Abusive leaders often manipulate people with guilt feelings in order to maintain control over them. ----

yet from her words it is clear that this was not the first conversation in which he had made her feel shame. I think it's safe to conclude that this was a manipulative power play this boss regularly used to keep an employee off balance and under his control.

Power Play 3: Intimidation

In his book Toxic Emotions at Work, Peter Frost relates the story of a corporate CEO who ruled by fear and intimidation. At meetings with his senior managers, he would invariably select one person as his victim, and he would verbally attack that person for several minutes. "The CEO seemed to be intentionally setting a tone," Frost wrote, "creating a level of fear and intimidation in the group that carried over into the agenda discussions."

On another occasion, that same CEO conducted the firing of one of his senior managers as a symbolic public hanging. First, he tipped off the rest of the staff that the firing would take place. Then he went into the manager's glass-walled office so that all the staff would be able to watch the drama from their own desks in the open office. When the abusive CEO began his rant, the manager asked that they go to a private office and conduct the rest of the discussion in a confidential setting. The CEO refused and continued haranguing and humiliating the man in front of his friends and peers. Then he punctuated the discussion by telling the man he was fired.

Clearly, the CEO's goal was to instill fear throughout his organization as a means of demonstrating his power and control. Peter Frost concludes that the CEO's plan backfired because "many of the staff members were angered and demoralized by the spectacle." The result of that fear-inducing symbolic public hanging was a "chain reaction of poorer performance and general discontent" - the exact opposite of the effect the CEO was trying to achieve.

Richard D. Parsons, former CEO of Time Warner, recalled one boss he had early in his career - a boss who intimidated others with his explosive temper. On one occasion, the volatile boss blew up during a meeting, yelled at one employee and even threw things

--- The result of that fear-inducing symbolic public hanging was a "chain reaction of poorer performance and general discontent". . . ---- at the unfortunate man. The worst moment came when the victim - a grown man - broke down and cried in front of everyone in the room.

For Parsons, it was a powerful lesson that intimidation undermines the entire organization. The fear factor, Parsons concluded, "tended to stifle, muffle, and impede effective communications, particularly bad news . . . No one wanted to set off this manager, so they didn't tell him things they thought he wouldn't be happy hearing."

By contrast, the most successful companies are often led by the kindest and most caring of CEOs. One example is the Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, founded in 1946 by Christian businessman S. Truett Cathy, who built his reputation on the leadership style of Jesus. He has always put faith, integrity, and people ahead of profits (for example, his restaurants are always closed on Sundays, giving his employees a biblical day of rest).

In an interview on Fox News Channel, host Neil Cavuto said, "Mr. Cathy, they say you can't be a nice guy in this business. It's a rough world, you have to be tough. What do you say?"

"Well," Cathy replied, "I think the opposite. I think the kinder you are to your people, the more productive they will be and the more customers you will be able to attract. I think I kind of look upon being in the restaurant business as a divine calling."

Power Play 4: Ridicule

I define ridicule as using humor as a weapon to hurt people. A sense of humor is a powerful and positive tool in the hands of an authentic, Christ-like leader. But in the hands of an abusive, controlling boss or tyrant, humor becomes a weapon of control, usually in the form of mockery and ridicule.

Historian J. Michael Waller of the Institute of World Politics tells us that ridicule was a favorite technique of Adolf Hitler for maintaining control of his underlings - though the Führer himself could not take a joke. "Hitler's sense of humor knew no self-deprecation," Waller writes. "His was what the Germans call schadenfreude . . . taking malicious pleasure at others' misfortune. Hitler loved cruel jokes on his own ministers, especially on Foreign Minister Ribbentrop . . . He could never laugh at himself."

--- . . . the most successful companies are often led by the kindest and most caring of CEOs. ----

Professor Bennett Tepper of Georgia State University conducted research on employees who worked for abusive bosses. His study involved more than seven hundred adults who worked at private, public, and nonprofit workplaces. His findings, as reported by researcher Robert I. Sutton at the University of California at Berkeley, revealed many of these people "had bosses who used ridicule, putdowns, the silent treatment, and insults . . . These demeaning acts drove people to quit their jobs at higher rates and sapped the effectiveness of those who remained."

Employees who stayed on the job felt "reduced commitment to employers, and heightened depression, anxiety, and burnout."

Sometimes, leaders can fall into the trap of using the power play of ridicule without even realizing it. A friend told me about a lesson he learned while working one Christmas season at a hostel for international students. A jolly and goodnatured fellow, my friend seemed to work well with students from other cultures.

But one day two Middle Eastern young men said to him, "You smile a lot, and that means you are happy and cooperative, does it not? And you say we do not have to go on some of the trips you have arranged. And you say it with a smile. But if we do not go, you also say words that make us know we have displeased and disappointed you. All the while, you continue smiling, even when you say things like, 'You're not too tired to go.' Please forgive us, but we don't understand."

My friend instantly realized his error - and regretted it. On one level, he wanted everyone to attend every function, even though he told the students they didn't have to. In an attempt to manipulate them into going, he would use a humorous jab, delivered with a smile, which he thought would soften the jab. Instead, the conflicting mixture of verbal and nonverbal messages he sent was confusing to the students.

"I learned a valuable lesson," he told me. "I never realized before how I used a smile and belittling humor to get my way with people."

---- Sometimes, leaders can fall into the trap of using the power play of ridicule without even realizing it. ----

A good sense of humor is an important leadership trait. If you read the gospels objectively, you find that Jesus had a finely tuned Middle Eastern sense of humor. He loved hyperbole, creating ridiculous word pictures to make a point while making his listeners laugh. The image of someone obsessing over a speck in his neighbor's eye while ignoring a huge plank in his own eye is as funny as it is instructive. He also used word pictures of a camel trying to squeeze through the eye of a needle, and compared the absurd legalism of the Pharisees to straining a gnat out of one's drink, then swallowing a camel. In arguments, he used devastating logic and wit to expose the irrationality of his opponents' accusations.

But Jesus never used humor to belittle, shame, ridicule, or mock his followers. He always used humor to instruct and to build relationships. That's the leadership style of Jesus, and it's the model we should follow in our own leadership lives.

Power Play 5: Emotional Appeals

There's nothing wrong with involving the emotions of your audience as long as your message is honest and supported by facts and reason. But all too often, when a leader doesn't have truth and logic on his side, he resorts to tricking his audience with emotional appeals. This is a ruthless power play that is unworthy of the leadership style of Jesus, whose message was always rooted in truth.

A prime example of a manipulative emotional appeal is the phrase "for the children." This phrase is known as a "thought-terminating cliché" because it can be invoked to shut down a rational debate. We are all "for the children," and we all want the best for all children, especially our own. Jesus himself was a caring advocate for children (see Matthew 18:3; 19:13-14; Mark 10:13- 14; Luke 18:15-16). So there is nothing wrong with a leader expressing honest caring and concern for children.

---- There's nothing wrong with involving the emotions of your audience as long as your message is honest and supported by facts and reason. ----

What is manipulative and dishonest is when our so-called leaders prey on our love for children and manipulate us with emotional appeals. When politicians want to expand their power by raising our taxes, they tell us that budget cuts would cause schools to decline, and kids would no longer have textbooks, pencils, and school lunches for their hungry bellies - as if there were not a dime of fat to be trimmed in the rest of the budget. Meanwhile, the taxes we already pay are being raided by these very same politicians through fraud, graft, payoffs, and cronyism. After the people vote themselves higher taxes, supposedly "for the children," the children will be no better off than they were before - but the politicians and the special interests will be richer than ever.

The "for the children" appeal is often used to change the subject when a leader gets in trouble. A few years ago a presidential candidate got into trouble because of some unsavory associations in his past. So his wife went on NBC's Today show to make an emotional appeal that we all stop talking about her husband's unwholesome connections and focus instead on the needs of "the children." She told the interviewer, "We've got to move forward. You know, this conversation doesn't help my kids. It doesn't help kids out there who are looking for us to make decisions and choices about how we're going to better fund education."

It was a classic thought-terminating cliché, a case of misdirection, as when a magician gestures with his right hand so you don't notice the card up his left sleeve. "Stop talking about scandal and talk about educating kids instead. Do it for the children." Her emotional appeal, while effective, actually turns logic on its head. If we really care about children, we should be very concerned about the character and associations of the person who is going to lead our nation and ultimately influence our kids' education. Manipulative emotional appeals have a tendency to lead people to mistaken conclusions.

Manipulators and con men tug at our heartstrings to control us and gain power over us. But Jesus, the quintessential leader, always told the truth and appealed to the intellect and the will. He told his followers, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" ( John 8:31b-32).

---- The leadership model of Jesus is based on a love that casts out fear (see 1 John 4:18). ---

How Jesus Answered Power

In John 13, we see Jesus, hours before the crucifixion, wrapping a towel around his waist, filling a basin with water, and washing the feet of the disciples. Washing feet was a job for the lowest servant in the household. Jesus taught by his words and his example that those who would lead must be servants to their followers.

Jesus showed us that the way up is down, the master is the servant, the greatest is the least, and the way to exaltation is to take up one's cross daily and follow Jesus (see Luke 9:23). Whereas Niccolò Machiavelli taught that leadership is a ruthless and relentless quest for power, Jesus taught that leadership is servanthood. The leadership model of this world is based on control, manipulation, and fear. The leadership model of Jesus is based on a love that casts out fear (see 1 John 4:18).

After washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus said to them, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" ( John 13:34-35).

Jesus rejected the world's definition of power. He did not seek power by manipulating and controlling people. He derived his power from God. He exercised that power through love. He extended his power to his followers and safeguarded that power against abuse by commanding his followers to love one another. A leader who loves his people will never manipulate or exploit them. He will seek only what is best for them. The most widely recognized symbol of Christianity is the cross. It's a wonderful symbol because it speaks of obedience and love - the obedience of Jesus to God the Father and the love of Jesus for lost humanity.

But there is another symbol of Christianity that we rarely see: the symbol of the basin and towel. This is the symbol of humble Christian service. The basin and towel are the tools of the Servant-Leader who washed his followers' feet. All of these symbols are marks of Christian leadership because they stand for the leadership style of Jesus - his humility, his servanthood, his obedience, and his love. These symbols suggest to us our next leadership principle:


Authentic leaders derive their greatest power from obeying God and serving others.

Taken from The Leadership Style of Jesus. Copyright © 2013 by Michael Youssef. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. Used by Permission.

Eternal Servant Leadership

by Mark Schindler

Please turn to John 15:9-10:

John 15:9-10
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue you in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

With the very same love the Father has for the Son, the Son has for us and we can only continue in that love as we abide in their commandments. The word “continue” in verse 9 is the same word used for “abide” in verse 10, “mevnw,” number 3306 in Strong’s which means to abide, continue, dwell, endure, remain, stand firm. Continuing in the love of the Father and the Son means standing firm within their commandments. This is the base from which all true disciples of Jesus Christ must operate. They will continue within the love of the Father and the Son so long as they will stand firm within their commandments. The very basic outline of those commandments is found in the Ten Commandments that fundamentally express the mind, character, and love of God. Standing firm within these is rudimentary to our love of the Father and the Son. As we know from the words of Jesus expressed most prominently in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, these must be filled out with an ever- growing understanding of the spirit of these commandments; by the way we apply them to every aspect of our daily lives under the direction of the holy spirit of the Father and the Son that dwells within each of us. However, that spirit can only dwell in each of us as we are continuing to apply the ever-expanding understanding the Father and the Son have guaranteed to provide us. This is a bit of a conundrum, but nonetheless the truth of God’s word as the apostle Paul writes in I Thessalonians 5:21. We must prove it and then live it. In other words, prove it, and then use it or lose it.

John 15:11-16 These things have I spoken unto you [this is Jesus speaking to His disciples], that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant does not know what the lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

We are commanded to love one another just as Jesus loves us, laying down our lives for one another and for those who will come after us by following the perfect example He left for us in every aspect of what He lived and taught as the exact radiating image of the Father. He was the physical living word of God and we are given enough recorded information of the life He led, so that we could follow His example in word and deed, so that we can know the very mind of the Father.

The consequences of not continually working to grow this way are disastrous because as we read in verses 13 and 14, He only died for those who would live as He lives, within every aspect of the letter and the spirit of the law as the Father revealed it to us; these are those who would be His friends. Living within the letter and the spirit of the law under the grace of God is the only way the Father and the Son can dwell in us and produce the fruit, which is necessary to continue living in us. This is the way they make sure that their way of life becomes engraved in our hearts. It is only through the grace of God through Jesus Christ that any of this becomes possible. However, in order to keep moving forward and to stand firm within their love, we must reciprocate their act of sacrificial love by doing the things we have been led to do in order to keep moving.

Those who say there is no work involved and that there is no potential loss of our salvation do not really believe the words and the example of our very Messiah. For instance, Jesus Christ commanded our active participation in a number of things by His word and His own example. Things like full immersion baptism as a sign of our covenant agreement with God, a commanded outward sign of our faith in God’s word to apply the blood of our Savior to wash away the penalty of our previous sins and our commitment to be raised anew to live as He lives. The foot washing and the observance of the Holy Days are a couple of other ones—all physical works to be sure, but steps deemed necessary by our great sovereign Creator as the physical part of what should be a tremendous growth in filling out the whole picture of the love of God that must dwell within us and motivate us to fulfill the purpose of our calling and election to the glory of God.

I am spending most of the time in the introduction of this sermon repeating to you something that we in God’s church already know because I wanted to remind us how critical it is to give due diligence to the gifts God has given us to be profitable servants unto Him; and through this process to continue to develop our relationships with Him and with each other.

Here is another interesting enigma in the Christian life. We are to be profitable servants but Jesus himself said, “I call you no more servants but friends.” We will get back to that in a minute, but first I would like you to turn with me forward two chapters to John 17:1-8.

John 17:1-8 These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said , Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, that your Son also may glorify you: As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do. And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was. I have manifested your name unto the men which you gave me out of the world: yours they were, and you gave them me; and they have kept your word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever you have given me are of yours. For I have given unto them the words which you gave me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from you, and they have believed that you did send me.

Here Christ is allowing us the privilege of listening in on the most intimate of conversations He was having with His Father about us in the most pivotal moment of their plan and purpose. Jesus had finished the work the Father had given Him to do to that point and was making it absolutely clear to those few that the Father had entrusted into His care who God is and what He is doing.

John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name: those that you gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

John 17:15-22 I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as you, Father, art in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.

We need to be constantly reminded of this high calling and what God expects from us. Those disciples and all those called who would believe on Him through their word, including us, are sanctified through the Father by living according to the truth of God in a world driven by the spirit of self-centered contention and deceit.

What I want to do for the remainder of this sermon is look at an aspect of our duty before God to be faithful servants in working to remain within the friendship of the Father and the Son. Within the bounds of this short sermon today, we will not be able to see any more than a snapshot of what we can do to begin to fill in our love for God and neighbor and a couple of examples of what should be our daily work to become more of the servant leaders that God expects us to become.

We are going to look at servant leadership but to start we need to look back at John 15 for a quick look at the words “love,” “servant,” and “friends.” Most of you know that the word for love throughout this section is “agape” or “agapao” depending upon whether it is the noun or verb form, and the word for friends is “philos” which is the noun form of the Greek verb for love, “phileo.” Vines Expository Dictionary writes the following about agape love:

This word is an exercise of divine will and a deliberate choice made without designable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself.

A clear example of this as God Himself has described in Deuteronomy 7.

Deuteronomy 7:6-9 For you art an holy people unto the LORD your God: the LORD your God has chosen you to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, has the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God, he is God, the faithful God, which keeps covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Vines continues:

Christian love has God for its primary object and expresses itself first of all in implicit obedience to His commandment. Self-will, that is self-pleasing, is the negation of the love of God.

This love that Jesus therefore requires of us is a carefully thought out, sacrificial love which requires that we set our will, thinking it through and then applying it to our behavior toward God and each other that is according to His will in the letter and the spirit of the law. “Phileo” love on the other hand is the affectionate love that conveys the thought of cherishing the object of affection above all else. Bullinger’s Companion Bible writes “agapao is the cause or ground of phileo.” This is the intimate relationship that comes from setting one’s will to live according to God’s will while at the same time faithfully growing in spiritual acuity as to the very character and purpose of the Father and Son as they dwell in us. Jesus told the apostles, and by extension us, that He no longer called His faithful disciples servants but friends for two reasons: because His friends would be those faithfully seeking to live the letter of the spirit of the law in their own lives, and they would be producing fruit because they would be doing it for the right reasons with continued growth in the grace and knowledge of the plan and purpose of the Lord. However, this assurance of friendship does not negate the role as a servant but rather increases the need for sacrificial service that is the hallmark of the outgoing concern, as Mr. Armstrong used to call it, of God Himself.

Psalm 113:1
Praise you the LORD.
Praise, O you servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.

Psalm 113:4-8 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens. Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwells on high, who humbles himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! He raised up the poor out of the dust, and lifted the needy out of the dunghill; that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.

Our great God is constantly serving His own creation in order to give us everything we need to succeed. There is nothing that He himself does not provide, and this should drive us to do the same. Matthew 20 is the section that records the incident of James’ and John’s mother asking for her two sons to be given places of authority alongside Jesus when He rules; so this really goes beyond just this life and into our work in the Kingdom of God. We see His response to the apostles in verses 25-28. I am going to read this out of the ESV because the words give an emphatic sense of the duty of being a servant, especially in light of the example we have of God himself:

Matthew 20:25-28 (ESV) But Jesus called them to him and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

A second word for servant that is translated “slave” is exactly the same word that Christ used for servant in John 15. With this in mind, I would like to spend the short time remaining in this message to talk about servant leaders and our responsibility now to thoughtfully learn to serve; because as I said, it is one of the hallmark qualities of God Himself, and we will be working this way for eternity. Because of the spirit in man, the men of this world often recognize the right way to live and live by it because they see it as a valuable commodity to their own success. This is the case with the idea of servant leadership.

One of the most notable stories of servant leadership is one of the largest and most consistently profitable major airlines in the United States, Southwest Airlines. Under their co-founder and former CEO, Herb Kelleher, servant leadership became an intrinsic part of their corporate culture and they determined at the outset in 1971 that as a vital part of their business model they needed to develop in all their managers leaders who would serve the people who served their customers. One of the three core values of that company became “a servant’s heart” or to put others first. Their business success is legendary because of a number of things, but perhaps most importantly it is because of their commitment to servant leadership. A number of successful companies have developed the same strategy over the years, devoting much time and energy to it.

When I was working, the corporation for which I worked spent many hours and money in training our management teams to learn to become servant leaders. I spent many weeks in classes and seminars learning what needed to be done to be a successful servant leader of the people that were under my responsibility, and much of my time both at work and at home were spent in trying to think through and apply those lessons in everyday situations in order to create an environment that helped motivate success in our business.

Recently I was reading through one of the books that had been part of my required reading in learning this role of a servant leader in the corporate world. As I read through it, I consider that although I had worked at applying many of those principals…how much better I should have done at enhancing the relationships with the people around me at work, and I regretted no longer having that opportunity to use those tools to produce more than I had at the time. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing, but I realized that this is the same thing that God is giving us the opportunity to do right now. However, not doing it now or doing it poorly will have much greater consequences than a marginalized corporate edict does.

I want us to ask ourselves how well we are learning and practicing the very important, holy job of real servant leadership today in preparation for our roles to lead with Christ tomorrow. James C. Hunter in his book The Servant writes:

The foundation of leadership is not power but authority, which is built upon relationships of love, service, and sacrifice. Power can be bought and sold, given and taken away. People can be put into positions of power for right and for wrong reasons because they are someone’s brother-in-law, somebody’s bail, because they inherited money or power. This is never true of authority. Authority is about who you are as a person, your character and the influence you have built with people.

Although this is a business leadership book, the dedication page of James Hunter’s book simply states “To the Glory of God.” How much more should we be actively seeking and practicing servant leadership right now to the glory of God? With this in mind, we will take a look at the principles of this service while understanding that we must practice daily the use of these God-given tools to make an impact now on how we treat one another for the glory of God. I want to use some of the conclusions that these people have reached especially from the book by James Hunter and try to relate them more closely to our responsibilities before God in preparation for our leadership roles with Jesus Christ.

However, I would like to make one thing absolutely clear. Even though these people have reached the profitable conclusion, they are eventually bound for failure to some degree or another because their ultimate focus, no matter how seemingly noble or right, is wrong. Most everything I have been taught in the business sector about servant leadership is to produce something that is ultimately self-serving, even if it extends beyond the bottom line returns and enhances the growth and well-being of others. It actually falls far short of the true agape love, which is ultimately to bring glory to God. Also the world view of servant leadership does not take into account the move from the exercise of deliberate choice and service to others without tender affection to a love that includes the most tender affection and friendship with Jesus Christ and each other because of the revealed mind of God working in us.

Getting back to the basic understanding of servant leadership as proposed in this world…one of the main ways that most men think of leadership is of a business, military, church structure from the top down. Like a pyramid with leadership on the top passing down orders from generals to colonels to majors to captains to lieutenants to sergeants to corporals to foot soldiers doing the fighting.

Servant leadership flips the pyramid over and shows a structure that indicates a leadership support system expanding out from the base up, showing each level of leadership serving the needs of the next. The general, CEO, supports the colonels, vice presidents, who in turn support the majors, captains, lieutenants, middle managers who support the sergeants, corporals, supervisors, who support those on the front lines. Each is working to give to the next group.

They stand under all the tools and support they need in order to get any obstacles out of the way so that those they support can succeed. They are there to meet the needs, not the wants, of those they serve in order to create the best environment for everyone to produce the best results possible for all involved. One of the main ideas of this business model is that it builds a relationship of trust in those who actively participate in its maintenance. It is built on the premise that those in leadership diligently work in considering what those they lead truly need and then supply it.

Notice that they are duty bound to seek and fill the needs, not the wants, of the people, of those they serve because if they provided no more than their individual wishes, this would make them slaves and produce nothing except satisfying everyone’s individual desires, and that certainly does not lead to success working together but fractionalization. It is therefore a servant leader’s obligation to set boundaries and standards and hold those they lead accountable to those standards in order to maintain unity and progress. These all should be very familiar grounds for us, all from the body of Christ. This is the same way that God works with us and expects us to work with others through clearly defined standards and all the tools necessary to keep moving forward. God serves us in supplying our needs, not our wants, and works diligently to keep us on the right track, and He has made it our responsibility to do the same thing for each other.

Getting back to the business model of servant leaders—the people who have developed the framework of the building blocks for good leadership have established a foundation that looks very similar to what God expects from each of us in our work to develop the servant leadership qualities. However, as I said before, without the proper starting point, it is doomed for failure; and this is the major point where we make the right change to the model of servant leadership. The steps that are the building blocks of leadership according to these men are will, upon which is built love, upon which is built service and sacrifice upon which is built authority upon which is leadership. In discussing these qualities, James Hunter writes:

Leadership begins with the will, which is our unique ability as human beings to align our intentions with our actions and choose our behavior. With proper will we can choose to love, which is about identifying and meeting the legitimate needs, not the wants, of those we lead. When we meet the needs of others we will by definition be called upon to serve, even sacrifice. When we serve and sacrifice for others we build authority, or influence, and when we build authority with people then we have earned the right to be called a leader. Leadership boils down to a simple four word definition: “identify and meet needs.”

Here is where the initial step off in the wrong direction is going to end up in some place totally different from where we need to go. The overall process is correct, but with this carnally motivated process, we will only end up in the same place Satan and the demons eventually did. There can be no lasting commitment to this process because eventually it will break down; because the real goal is ultimately self-centered, and when some of the conditions change, so will the commitment. A good example of this is going on right now with the current economic conditions which have changed the employment picture from one of an employees’ market to an employers’ market and has put many workers at the mercy of those who would employ them.

When I was working, many companies were looking for what would give them the edge over other companies. Because of the need for well-motivated employees, many of them chose the course of servant leadership, even though it cost plenty to prepare their teams to do this because it takes a dedicated effort. Now, many corporations that are now basically people driven by human nature, as Mike Ford mentioned last week in his sermonette, have deemed bottom line wealth for the few as the obvious purpose; and with the change in the job market they are abandoning the expensive servant leader commitment and are replacing it, in many instances, with the “owing my soul to the company store” mentality. Because the economic conditions changed, so did the direction of corporate time, money, and energy away from the servant leadership way of business, which has been losing intrinsic value to the profitability of many corporations.

Our commitment to the servant leadership way of life must be founded on the eternal plan and purpose of God. The building blocks of true servant leadership must begin with setting the will, just as laid out in the business model, but with an extremely different focus for us. Here is where we exercise our faith in Christ and John 15 assurance of phileos love, by setting our will according to the revealed plan and purpose of our master within the clear boundaries of His commandments in order to faithfully fulfill all of our obligations of service toward Him and the brethren. This cannot be just another way of doing the business of this world, but an actual inside-out way of life.

Going back to the business model once again, it is going to be a sterling example to us if we remember that our end result needs to be the glory of God. James Hunters book states:

The best teachers, bosses, and mentors all exhibited practically the same qualities that made them have an impact. They were honest and trustworthy, a good role model, caring, committed, a good listener, held people accountable, treated people with respect, gave people encouragement, positive with enthusiastic attitude, appreciated people and created a healthy environment for people to grow and thrive.

These are the exact same things God wants from each of us, and He expects nothing less. Even James Hunter in the book on business management strategy draws the conclusion that these attributes of the most impactful leaders mirror God’s instructions to the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 13 (we know it as the love chapter). Turn to that scripture and we will see what he is referring to as the most needed qualities of a servant leader.

I Corinthians 13:4-8 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Here is the list from the book that he draws in the comparison of this description of love to the qualities of leadership. Patience, showing self control; kindness equals giving attention, appreciation, and encouragement; humility equals being authentic and without pretense or arrogance; respectfulness, treating others as important people; selflessness, meeting the needs of others; forgiveness, giving up resentment when wronged; honesty, being free from deception; commitment, sticking to your choices; results, service and sacrifice, setting aside your own wants and needs seeking the greater good for others.

His point throughout the book is that although these are all simple enough attributes, they are only attained and maintained through careful thought and application. Are we as men, women, husbands, wives, children, neighbors, brothers, sisters, workers, employers, and all the other relations, committed to think through and do these things in all of our daily lives, as we are instructed in so many places in the epistles and in the word of Jesus Christ himself?

Are we going to do this because we know God and want to act like He does for His glory? It is interesting in the parable of the talents, as recorded in Matthew 25:14-30—the unprofitable servant is the one who had the false understanding of his master. He was condemned because of his own false image of his master. He could not be a friend of his master because he could not understand or apparently had no desire to put forth the effort to find out the truth. It is also interesting that Jesus reveals the keys to His judgment on the nations following this parable in verses 31-42. The righteous were separated from the unrighteous by acts of service and sacrifice that they had exercised toward others as if unto Christ himself.

The daily Berean this morning was cited from an article by Clyde Finklea having to do with Proverbs 3:5-6 which reads:

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Clyde’s conclusion at the end of this particular section was that He shall direct your path, suggesting that God will smooth or make straight the road of our lives. This is a promise that God will go before us and remove many of the obstacles from our path. He wants us to be successful so that if we trust Him and follow His instructions, He will lead us forward, sweeping many of our potential problems to the side. How encouraging that we have the opportunity to know our great God and follow His example of servant leadership now and through eternity. The world sees the law of God as an overbearing chain of commands from the top down, but we have been given the privilege to understand that the law of God is the essence of His love and our opportunity to continue to abide in the way of the Father and the Son. We are now preparing to be servant leaders with Jesus Christ by being servant leaders now in all of our relationship to bring glory to our great God.

Leadership Lessons From The Animal World
Jesus has taught about the value of Servant leadership. Interestingly, this is practiced by the animal kingdom for survival.

Take a look at the wolves journey (pictures courtesy of Dilip Ittyera.)

Journey of Wolves in Frozen Tundra
Leadership Lessons from Wolves


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